One of my favorite guys to hear speak in the fitness
industry is Gray Cook, one of the guys behind the Functional Movement Screen.
Gray has an amazing way of putting complex concepts into simple, easy to
understand terms that I really admire.
The other day I was driving around listening to a recorded
presentation he had done when he dropped another gem -
movement function and movement function drives perception.
This is a very profound concept that I have understood for a
while but had trouble explaining to riders. It is so important, though, because
it explains how your equipment and bike set up can negatively change how you
perform without you even realizing it.
This blog post is a combination article/ podcast. I have
posted my notes from my podcast below, you can read them and get a good feel
for what I am trying to explain. However, I get into more detail on the podcast
and I encourage you to listen to it first before drawing too many conclusions
from the notes.
- How your brain interprets things will determine how you
are able to move.
- How you are able to move will determine how your brain
- Ties into the Physical and Mental Confidence concept of
how your brain percieves things will affect your mental confidence.
- Your brain interprets things on 2 levels 1) conscious and
- The first is what you actually think/ what the voice in
your head is telling you.
- The second takes place below our conscious percpetion and
there is no way that we know exactly what it is thinking, however what it is thinking has an effect an what we
are thinking and how we can perform.
Imagine that I ask you to do a regular squat with your feet
shoulder width apart, weight distributed evenly on your feet and standing on a
Now imagine that I ask you to do a squat with your feet in
the same position but now I want you to balance on the balls of your feet and
to stand on a surface with no lateral friction.
I’m sure you can imagine yourself having a much harder time
with the second scenario. No matter how much your practice and how comfortable
you are in that position your brain will percieve the less stable position and
shut down the strenght and power to the
legs – you will never be able to produce as much strength or power in the
The only thing that changed was the brains perception of
where you were in space and how stable you were. So your peception drove your
movement function (how well you could squat).
- Example 2:
Imagine that I have a rider who wants to learn how to jump
on his bike. Right now he has no hip hinge – he can’t touch his toes and is
unable to drive movement from his hips and not his lower back.
I can explain to him all day long how to jump but because he lacks the fundamental movement needed to
drive the skill it will feel and seem impossible to him. Because of this, small
jumps will intimidate them because of the lack of consistency and general
feeling of not being balanced in the air.
Now, imagine that this rider has spent a few weeks (or
months) working on their hip hinge and can not effectively move their hips
forward and backwards while keeping a neutral spine. This time when they hit
the jumps things will feel different.
They will feel more consistent with their take-offs and stable in the air.
This increases their confidence and they end up seeing small
jumps as relatively easy instead of intimidating. Suddenly the step up in the
jump line doesn’t look as death defying as it once did. The process repeats
intself until you are sailing over 40 footers with the greatest of steez…
- In both examples yoru performance was affected more by how
you subconsciously percieved the situation and how you were able to move than
- One the bike you see this in a few areas…
1) Clipless pedals.
These are like balancing on your toes and standing on a suface with no lateral
fiction (essentially what pedal float is). I did a podcast
interview with barefoot training expert Andy Clowers where he explained how
the restrictions placed on the foot by clipless pedal shoes, the unnatural
interface seen with pedal float and forefoot position all contributed to the
brain perceiving a lot of bad things and shutting down balance and power as a
result. The subconscious perception of your brain-foot connection will make it
harder to shift the hips back, stand up to pedal and to remain stable when
standing up to brake or descend.
2) Long stems.
Pulling your shoulders so far forward slows down your steering, and makes the
bike less stable when descending or standing up to pedal. Again, perception
driving movement quality. The unbalanced position is recognized by your brain
on a subconscious level and effects how well you can manuever your bike in all
but the seated climbing position – which is the worst position for you to base
your mountain bike set up on.
3) Too much seated
pedaling. Most riders come into mountain biking with poor core strength,
weak and dysfunctional hips and bad posture. Because of this standing up to
pedal feels hard. However, once you
address those weaknesses and learn how to apply better movement to the bike you
will find that standing up doesn’t feel nearly as hard. In fact, it can become
your go-to pedaling position when you need to climb or lay down power. In this
case your movement quality drove your perception. When the movements your
needed to stand up and pedal weren’t there it felt extremely hard but once you
improved your movement quality your could get into more efficient positions and
it didn’t feel as hard.
That’s it for now, hope this post and podcast gave you
something to think about. Make sure that you aren’t unknowingly holding
yourself back by messing with your subconscious perception and movement
function and you’ll find riding to be a much more enjoyable experience.
Until next time…